Thursday, December 28, 2006

Review - Fun Home

Fun Home is an autobiography in the form of a graphic novel (or comic book, as I called them when I was a kid). Alison Bechdel is also the cartoonist of Dykes to Watch Out For, a comic strip about a cohort of lesbians living in San Francisco. In Fun Home, Bechdel writes about her childhood and about her father, a high school teacher, undertaker and a meticulous restorer of old houses.

Fun Home is a collage of memories and impressions rather than a linear narrative. In many ways, Fun House is about feeling overshadowed: overawed by her father’s intellect, afraid of his temper, forever in the shadow of her father’s withholding personality. Even her own coming out as a lesbian was overshadowed by learning that her father had affairs with young men. She writes: “I had imagined my confession as an emancipation from my parents, but instead I was pulled back into their orbit.”

It is this tension that creates the narrative flow of the book. The push and pull fuels Bechdel’s view of her own personality, and how she excavates it. She uses that tension to explain her near compulsive behaviors as a child, and to define her self in opposition of her father: “cropped, curt, percussive. Practically onomatopoeic. At any rate, the opposite of sissy.” It defines her relationship with her father, especially after he commits suicide: as she grew older she found a kind of shared passion in literary and artistic aesthetics, despite their other differences. The tension between her and her father’s personalities makes the book compelling, and gives it an arid sort of humor, as when she is arguing with her father about wearing pearls. “What are you afraid of?” He shouts. “Being beautiful?” Or when she fails to see the humor in Charles Addams’ cartoons because the resemblance is too close to her own life.

Although a summary of the book sounds dark, almost dreary, Fun Home has a quiet humor and sense of diligence that makes it very engaging. There is an implicit optimism in the fact that Bechdel becomes connected to the gay community despite the disconnects in her home life, that she can become an artist despite the fact that her father’s lack of fulfillment made her early childhood quietly desperate, and that she can walk a metaphorical line around the events of her child and young adulthood, both funny and sad, and make a story of it. If you enjoy biography, or graphic novels, you will find this an interesting read.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Usually, I could care less about these web toys, but this one caught my eye.

0 people named Kapture is so totally wrong, though.
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cure for the Emo-time blues.

Poppy: "Mumma, I told Daddy that I was going to be his pet lion. Then when I roared, he just ran away."

Daddy: "It was scary."

Poppy: "You're just not used to having a pet lion."

So, here's my homebrew cure for S.E.D., or seasonal Emo disorder.

1. I Believe in a Thing Called Love - The Darkness
2. Dude Looks Like a Lady - Aerosmtih
3. Play the Funky Music - Average White Band
4. Love Shack - B-52's
5. She Don't Use Jelly - Ben Folds Five
7. Pink Cadillac - Aretha Franklin
6. Don't Phunk With My Heart - Black Eyed Peas
7. I Get Knocked Down - Chumbawumba
8. Allstar - Smashmouth
9. Push the Little Daisy's - Ween
10. Beatles - Here Comes the Sun (I put this on every solstice, or thereabouts.)

Put them on, dance with your four year old.

Remember - Forever Young, by Alphaville, makes her sad. It is only a cheerful song if you are encrusted with Emo.

Friday, December 22, 2006


It is hard to get up, in the middle of winter, at 6 AM, for this writing bullshit.

In other news: Happy Solstice. The Sun Will Come Out, Tomorrow. Or, at least, a little earlier. Sing a sunny song.

One of the blogs I peruse has been posting lists of year end top tens. Technology based. If you're at all interested in bleeding edge web stuff, it's a good place to go and read about what you probably won't use but will be hearing about everywhere next year, or five years from now.

Anyway, it got me thinking about what I've been doing new this year, and what I've found useful. So here's my top nine things that I've found useful this year, briefly annotated:

1. Google Reader: This collects so much blog reading for me. Plus, having all those feeds together makes it easy for me to evaluate individual blogs. I can see what the mass of posts to usefulness ratio is. I can strike off annoying motormouths really quickly. Go to and get an account. In Your Account, you will see a link to the page that will let you set up a reader.

2. The PLA conferance in March: It's always good to get out and see what other professionals are doing right.

3. My Gamers: Are all good guys (and gals). They ensure that I'll have fun at least once a week.

4. Tome of Magic: A Dungeons and Dragons game book, from those not in the secret order of tabletop gamers. I'm running a game in which the bad guys are all wizards, and having three totally different kinds of magic in which to choose NPCs from really expands my possibilities. That said, not all the new wizardy classes are created equal: Truenamers (so far) out and out suck.

5. Wikipedia: I find so much crap on this page. Take it all with a grain of salt, but start your search for info here.

6. Google homepage: Widgets. Sweeet. Go to and get an account. On the main page, choose personalized home page. Start dragging and dropping. Click Add Stuff to browse widgets. Sweeet.

7. Netflix: I have a movie, once a week. Don't need to deal with video store stock, clerks, return fees, choosing my movie, or anything. Makes me feel bad for the future of libraries.

8. Stephen Abram: The blog I noted above. He really is one sharp bastard. If you're interested in web culture at all, he's one to stick in your RSS feed.

9. Firefox: Goddamn, tabs are useful. It's so nice not having to re-open your browser every time you want to bring up another website.

10. Flash drives: They are more important to me than underwear. These are old hat, but really, if you don't have one to move files around, get one. Dumbass. If your library doesn't let people use them... I have nothing to say. Floppy Disks are gone, bucko. Stop living in the past.

And a few things that I have yet to see the charm of:

2nd life: Too many choices at start. Bogs up my new computer. No fighting. I don't get it.

del.ici.ous: Why should I bookmark off my computer? Who would care what my book marks are? I'd rather read a blog.

NPC Designer: A software that randomly creates NPC stat blocks for Non-Player Characters (skip this one if you are not in the SOoTtG, as Tome of Magic, above). Too random. Too underdeveloped. I just want to set parameters and go, using at least the core rules. Why can't anyone get something this simple right? How hard can it be to add some numbers in a set of fields?

Audio books: My commute is a mile and a half. They're kind of like coitus interuptus for me.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The drama of librarianship

I was sitting on the desk when one of my co-workers decided to give me candy (mint chocolate kisses).

Several minutes later, another of my co-workers stopped by and gave me more candy (peanut M & M's).

I wondered if I was looking sad, or lonely, sitting on the information desk, all by myself.

Then I wondered: If I look sadder and lonlier, will more of my staff bring me candy?


In other news, I helped my first patron on our new IM reference service today. I am absurdly please with myself.